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Nbc 6, Chicago 6, Lester Holt 5, America 5, Pakistan 5, California 4, U.n. 3, New York City 3, Nbc News 3, Kate 2, Jeff Rossen 2, Stephanie Gosk 2, Raiders 2, Iraq 2, New York 2, Baghdad 2, Us 2, Florida 2, Washington 2, Phillip Markoff 1,
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  NBC    NBC Nightly News    News/Business. The latest world  
   and national news. New. (CC) (Stereo)  

    August 15, 2010
    5:30 - 6:00pm PDT  

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kids said it was spectacular. there you go. i'm still getting over the indianapolis thing. my husband worked there. i should know there. "nbc nightly news" is next and then more local news on the bay area at 6:00. political fallout -- controversy over a planned mosque near ground zero follows the president as he visits the gulf. out of control -- an off-road race goes horribly wrong. shining a harsh light on a dangerous past time. a credit, as kids head back to school, parents get some help with the bills in these tough economic times. deadly summer for kids on the street. but look who's stepping in to help keep them safe. and meals on wheels -- fancy food served from the back of a truck. can gourmet be portable?
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captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening, what the white house once called a local issue here in new york has become part of a national dialogue this weekend. after president obama waded into the controversy over the construction of a mosque near the site of ground zero. and today, the president's political opponents made clear, they intend to make this an issue in the upcoming election. we'll have two reports tonight. we begin with nbc's mike viqueira, who is in panama city beach again tonight. >> reporter: the president is back in washington after spending overnight in the florida panhandle with his family. but the controversy over his support of the mosque near ground zero has followed him here and back. and today it shows little sign of dying down. the obamas closed out their gulf coast getaway this weekend with a boat ride.
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and caught a glimpse of a porpoise as it breached the calm, bay waters. but overshadowing his gulf trip, a storm over the president's comments in support of a mosque near ground zero. >> the white house, the administration, the president himself seems to be disconnected from the mainstream of america. >> the controversy began friday, at a white house dinner marking the start of the muslim holy month of ramadan. >> i believe that muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. that includes the right to build a place of worship in a community center on private property. in lower manhattan. in accordance with local laws and ordinances. >> the remarks came after aides to the president had repeatedly declined to delve into the issue, calling it a local matter. conservatives and some families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks were outraged. yesterday the president appeared to soften his stand, saying he was not endorsing the construction of the mosque. i was not commenting and i will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. i was commenting very
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specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. that statement has not satisfied opponents of the mosque, including some 9/11 victims' families. >> i am offended by it. and more than a little angry that they have seen how upset people have become and they still persist in proposing the building of this mosque. >> but others are backing the president. >> if we the people, the average citizen starts restricting someone's ability to worship where they want to worship, what does that say about our country as a whole? >> and kate, the president is back out on the road for the first three days of this week, raising campaign cash for democrats. many of whom will be happy to get the money, but they don't want the controversy that the president brings about the mosque to follow them back to their towns and states. >> let's talk more with chuck todd nbc's political director and white house correspondent. he joins me from our washington news room. good evening, chuck.
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what about the political implications both for the president and for democrats as a whole? >> well, kate, i talked to one very senior democratic strategist and asked, what do you make of all of this. and they said, where to begin. bottom line, they don't understand why the white house politically chose to step into a story which was basically a debate in new york city and among the conservative opinion elites. and some fox tv shows. but he stepped in and chose to do it. now the concern among the democrats that it's going to follow them. not only do they have to figure out a way to answer the question on the campaign trail. it's going to pop up on debates and you saw how republicans are going to talk about it. senator john cornyn, campaign stath strategist at this point, saying this is part of the picture that we're trying to paint to show that democrats are simply out of touch with middle america.
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that's the big concern among democrats. >> white house spokesman had been quite clear he would not get into this. they said it was a local matter. why did he make these comments on friday night to begin with? >> this is the president, and the president himself that did this. i think we forget about, it was just over a year ago, he went to cairo, to make a speech, to reach out his hand to the muslim world. and there was a concern among some of the foreign policy advisers and the president himself, that this debate going on in new york city, about the mosque, was sending a terrible message to muslims around the world. and that he had to say something, and he had to stand up for this at some point. particularly if america is going to keep its moral authority when they try to for instance, criticize other countries for how they treat christian missionaries and things like that, kate. off-road race in california's mojave desert turned deadly when a speeding truck flipped and crashed into spectators crowding the track. and the horrifying moment was caught on camera. nbc is there. >> reporter: on a dry lake bed
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in california's mojave desert, thousands gathered for a show of speed. and then, in an instant, spectators became victims. this truck was one of more than 80 taking part in the annual race known as the california 200. just minutes into the competition saturday night, it went out of control, slamming into the crowd, many standing just feet away. killing eight. all in their 20s and 30s. their bodies scattered on the ground. 17 were injured, some critically. this photo shows the truck a moment before the accident. taken by photographer david conklin. >> i took the photo and i see the vehicle coming to a stop upside-down on its roof. dust everywhere. lots of people starting to run to the scene. people yelling, people screaming. >> nicky carmichael lost her boyfriend of two years. the man she hoped to marry. >> i walked away for five minutes to go to the bathroom. and i came back and he's gone.
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>> the driver, 31-year-old brett michaels and his passenger weren't injured, but fled the scene when angry spectators began pelting them with rocks. they haven't been charged with anything. desert racing is essentially self-governed, organizers let the crowds stand right on the sidelines with no barriers, no protection. >> you can't prevent the spectators from getting on the course unless you put up barriers on the course. and some of the courses are 200-plus miles long. i think the spectators have to take responsibility for themselves. >> everyone gets as close as they can. >> a fast-moving thrill that last night in the california desert quickly led to tragedy. we go overseas to a humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions in pakistan. flooding from torrential rains have now affected an astounding 20 million people. the u.n. secretary-general today called it the worst natural
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disaster he has ever seen. our report tonight from nbc's stephanie gosk in northwest pakistan. >> for more than two weeks, the indus river has engulfed region after region. swept away village after vill e village. 20% of the country is destroyed. and it's not over. the forecast is calling for more rain and a possible second round of flooding. in the south today, people scrambled to be rescued from helicopters above. when the floodwaters move in, the camps go up. millions of people are now homeless. northwest pakistan was the first region flooded. living like this without enough food or clean water is taking its toll. before the flood hit, this was the only clean water supply in the village. now it still pumps water, but the water is dirty. and it's making people sick. today we found 18-month-old boy not breathing well and obviously in pain. there's only basic medical assistance here.
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this baby needs more than that. >> i am worried he will die, his father told us. an islamic charity is assisting the 300 people living here with tents, latrines and food. but they need much more. this man spent three years and every cent he had building a house for his family. the river destroyed it in an hour. >> translator: we're all jobless, there is no money to buy any food or medicine. >> relief efforts are being led by the pakistani military with help from the u.s. marines. but more needs to be done. today u.n. secretary-general ban ki-moon toured the flood devastation with pakistani president zardari. the u.n. has appealed to $460 million and has only received 90. >> these unprecedented floods demand unprecedented assistance. the flood waves must be matched with waves of global support.
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>> the indus river is now threatening to rise again. maybe then the world will respond. stephanie gosk, nbc news, northwest pakistan. >> and we have posted information on how you can help the people in pakistan on our website, that's nightly.msnbc.com. turning to iraq, our series, the long way out, within the next two weeks, the u.s. will finish the withdrawal of its combat forces, leaving behind just 50,000 support troops. our richard engel is embedded with the last american combat unit in the country. and he joins us now live from baghdad. richard, what are you seeing and hearing? >> good evening, kate. we are at camp liberty, on the edge of baghdad. we are embedded with the 42 striker brigade. they call themselves the raiders. they're based at fort lewis in washington state. now they have a unique place in the history of this war, the raiders will be the last american combat troops to leave
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this country. some of them have already started to leave. earlier today, i spoke with the raiders' commander, colonel john norris, and he said it is an honor to bring american combat troops home. >> well, i think it represents closure. it represents the end of a chapter. seven years of war and operation iraqi freedom. we have the privilege of being the last combat brigade in iraq and we're in the redeployment process right now as a brigade. and with our departure, that represents the official end of operation iraqi freedom. >> the soldiers here are excited. the ones that are still on this base are already packed. but what's different now, compared to when this war began, is the amount of attention being paid to this. kate, if you remember when the war began in 2003, all of the media coverage, the television crews, wall-to-wall television coverage. that's not happening now.
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and the soldiers here wonder if that means america no longer cares. kate? >> richard, there was so much debate about when this withdrawal should happen. politically, back here in the u.s. what are the soldiers say about withdrawing? do they worry at all about what they leave behind? >> i've spoke with many soldiers about that today. including some who were here in the early stages, then came again in the surge and are now here one more time to end combat operations. they're very proud of what they've done. they've worked closely with the iraqi security forces, they say the iraqi army and police are ready now to take more responsibility. iraqis themselves are much more nervous. kate? >> richard engel, we appreciate your reporting tonight. thank you. when "nightly news" continues this sunday night, some financial aid for parents. tallying up the cost of school supplies. and later -- a movable feast, gourmet food on the go.
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it's getting to be that time again, time to shop for school supplies. an annual tradition for millions of american kids and their parents. this fall, tough economic times are forcing some hard choices for many parents. but as nbc's jeff rossen reports, help is on the way. >> just days before the start of the school year, the preclass jitters are setting in. but for these kids in san francisco, it's not just the jitters, their parents can't afford back-to-school basics and stood in line for hours in the middle of the night just for a
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free backpack stuffed with supplies. >> some people don't get to have all this stuff. so it's really nice that they can help us out. >> a local charity handed out a record 2,000 backpacks, more than ever before. >> the emergency is what's happening with our economy right now. i think this is just the tip of the iceberg. the level of need is tremendous. this summer, 17 states are offering school supplies tax-free. from new mexico to connecticut. texas to florida. >> time to save a little money. with three kids, very expensive. >> we're looking at prices and we're not trying to overdo it and we're just buying what we need. >> in some cases families that can't afford backpacks, can't afford notebooks have a hard time paying for food, too. so now, astonishing stories of school districts, even teachers themselves digging into their own pockets. >> some teachers and people who work in our cafeteria help pay for the kids' meals sometimes. because we're not going to let a
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kid not eat. >> at this school in arkansas, the situation is especially grim. more than half the students get free or discounted meals. a growing national trend, with a record 16.3 million kids receiving fully-subsidized lunches last year. >> this bill is about our children. >> the government is taking action, last week the senate passed a bill to increase funding for the school lunch program. >> in these economic times and the difficulty that families are seeing, sometimes the only meal that these kids are really going to get a meal is at school. >> small children dealing with big adult problems. it's not just about learning any more. it's everything else. jeff rossen, nbc news, new york. >> up next, on some of the meanest streets in the nation, lester holt meets a man who is helping to keep the peace.
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accused craigslist killer, phillip markoff is dead, an apparent suicide. his body was found in his jail cell in boston.
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a former medical student, he was awaiting trial on charges of killing a masseuse he met through the online classified ad site. in chicago, a 16-year-old girl was shot last night and seriously wounded in a park, another grim statistic in what has been a very tough year since a teenager was beaten to death there last september. chicago streets have become a battlefield. and the casualties are kids. lester holt takes us to the chicago streets where teens are often armed and dangerous. >> from last september, to this past june, 218 chicago students were shot. 31 were killed. not in schools, but on the streets of chicago. even hardened locals say the killing has to stop. derrick brown, aka shotgun, used to rule his west side neighborhood as a gang leader. who would defend this area? >> me. who would protect it, me.
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who would start the trouble, me. who would win the battles, me. >> now, after spending most of his youth in lockup, he wants to steer kids away from the violence. >> 18 of my best friends got killed. don't think because y'all kids, it won't happen to you. because it can and it will. >> this past may, with shootings wreaking havoc around the city, shotgun hit the streets. only now, he was on patrol. looking to stop trouble. not start it. >> a little like a gang fight that broke out. >> on this particular night, two mobs of teenagers armed with sticks head towards each other. >> he don't call me up and we going fight. [ bleep ] >> ain't nobody going to fight. it, i tell you what, you can fight me. hey, boy, you got to put that down, man. >> when a kid pulls out a gun, shotgun lets him have it. >> you better put that down, boy. >> and with that, the police
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arrive. >> just stopping violence with a peace gathering. >> how about we just move. >> all right. >> eventually, shotgun and his friends convince these kids to cool down. and go home. he says former troublemakers like himself are often more effective than the police at keeping the peace here. and chicago police say these men can have something valuable to offer. you trust them, do you embrace them? >> i know these guys are not angels, but we're at a point where we'll use any tool that we can get our hands on that we believe will work. >> besides, shotgun says, many of these kids don't want angels to look up to. they'll settle for an adult who cares. one willing to step in before it's too late. lester holt, nbc news, chicago. >> much more of lester holt's reporting on a special edition of "dateline: america now." tonight at 7:00 p.m. eastern,
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6:00 p.m. central on nbc. when we come back, rolling wonder -- eating well from the bask a truck.
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well, it used to be they
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weren't very glamorous -- hot trucks, food cart, roach coach, whatever you called them, they certainly weren't fine dining. but depending on where you live, you may have noticed some upgrades to the humble food cart. our chris jansing spent the day with a guy in east l.a., who has led the change. >> even before the kobi barbeque truck pulls up dozens of people have been in line for as long as an hour. >> it's worth waiting for. >> to get a bite of short rib tacos, spicy beef burritos and quesadillas. a fusion of korean and mexican food with a liberal sprinkling of twitter publicity. kobi is the brainchild of roy choi. a law school dropout going to culinary school, choi is now making sophisticated food both accessible and very affordable. >> two tacos and a snake in the grass. >> $2 for a taco. $5 for a burrito. >> every day, thousands of
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groupies follow the food truck wherever it parks. >> you plan your life around this lunch? >> yeah. >> now the mainstream food world is taking notice. >> he is the best chef, he cooks on the truck. >> in an unprecedented move, "food and wine" magazine gave chef choi a coveted award. >> you want food and wine to be a great experience. and he gives you a great experience. >> food trucks have been around for years, but this chef is the first bona fide superstar and his success has given credibility to the entire food truck movement and caused it to spread all across america. since kogi, more than 90 gourmet food trucks have popped up in l.a. and dozens more across the country. >> barbequed chicken, yeah. >> a new york city truck has german schnitzel. the skillet in seattle serves mac and cheese from a secondhand airstream. >> the cheese is so creamy.
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it's got kick. >> even babies wait patiently for a modern-day take on the good humor man. artisanal ice cream on wheels. >> it's nice to acknowledge that great food can be produced and delivered out of something other than a kitchen at a great restaurant. >> the concept brought in $2 million to the four kogi trucks in the first year. but for choi, it's about more than just making a buck. >> we have to make the effort to make food more fluid for people's lives, bring it to them. put it in an environment where people can get it. >> culinary crusaders, changing the way americans eat, one truck at a time. chris jansing, nbc news, los angeles. >> personally, i would recommend the truck fare in portland, oregon, just had it. that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. brian williams will be here tomorrow. for lester holt and all of us here at nbc news, have a great

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